Sad Day on Wilson Creek

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Sad Day on Wilson Creek

Post by Buffalo96 on Sun Apr 25, 2010 11:09 pm

I got this from another fishing board:

Authorities have identified the man who drowned at Wilson Creek Thursday afternon while on a fishing outing.

Investigators with the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office said the man who drowned after slipping off a rock was 65-year-old Thomas Wayne Free of Staunton, Va.

Free was fishing with Gary Hammerstone, a friend of his from Morganton, about a mile or so past Brown Mountain Beach store. Hammerstone told rescue officials he was fishing downstream a short distance from his friend when he heard a yell. When he went to check, his buddy had disappeared.

Rescue crews from several county agencies were dispatched at 2:24 p.m. ATV teams, ground search teams and dive teams were requested because officials were not certain at first if they were conducting a water or land search.

A second sweep of the Wilson Creek area between Brown Mountain Beach campground and Lady on the Rock by divers led to the discovery of Free. His body was found at 4:38 p.m. lying flat on the bottom of the river about 15-20 feet below the surface.

Caldwell County EMS Director Tommy Courtner said Free was wearing chest waders, and it appeared that they filled when he fell into the icy water. Free was not able to get the waders off to get out of the river.

Courtner said Hammerstone told him this was the second time he and his friend had fished at Wilson Creek. They also were there last year.

Approximately 30 people from county agencies responded to the incident.

I have fished Wilson Creek a few times since the DH section opened and it doesn't seem that difficult to wade. There is where the false sense of security comes in and you get careless.

I found this out a couple of times recently when I got into a rush wading to get out of the river. My foot got trapped in some rocks near the bank and I fell backwards trying not to break an ankle. Something that they didn't mention is the body's reaction to cold water. You uncontrollably gasp when exposed to cold water. Your body's attempt to get a lung full of air usually results in a lung full of water. When water hits your larynx another defense mechanism kicks in called laryngospasam which essentially closes off your airway. Even in the middle of the summer some waters are cold enough to induce this response.

Another thing to consider is layering. When I fell I had a nasty time getting up because my fleece jacket had absorbed a ton of water and was heavy. Luckily I fell backwards in relatively shallow water and did not strike my noggin. I was able to right myself and get out with the assistance of my fishing partner.

I am more conscious about my wading and being safe. I now use a wading staff, even in slow conditions. I always try to fish with a buddy, even though it didn't help that poor soul. If you do wade alone it is wise to leave a note on your dash telling where you are wading and a physical description in case you do have an accident. I also try to relax and take my time. Hurrying to that next spot might cost you more than you are willing to pay.

Stay safe my friends..... the life you save might be your own.
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Re: Sad Day on Wilson Creek

Post by Tyler on Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:54 pm

Very sad for sure. From now on, fishing Wilson will not be the same. Knowing that a fellow angler died in the same river you're fishing (likely not too far away either) sends chills up my spine. I've watched ambulances race past me on US276 along the Davidson River. Careless people kept falling off of Looking Glass Falls (alcohol was likely involved). Things like this happen. I still can't fully grasp the fact that it happened on Wilson; the river we all love and know...

I saw the story a few days ago. I didn't catch the details (who it was, if he's still alive, etc).

Wading belts need to be stitched onto waders!! They can save an angler's life.

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Re: Sad Day on Wilson Creek

Post by teachrtec on Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:33 pm

Fly fishing can be a dangerous sport. Most people either don't see it or they grow complacent. Easily done. Took a close call to get me back to some realities a few years ago.
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Agree, but don't tell the spouse

Post by vinpaysdoc on Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:15 pm

I'll NEVER get out if she hears about this......

Seriously, there's risk in any outdoor activity one decides to participate in. While he may not have chosen to go out this way, there is something that appeals to me about dying on a stream doing something I love rather than wheeling around a nursing home wishing I could get out on a stream again.....

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Re: Sad Day on Wilson Creek

Post by Tyler on Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:37 pm

You took the words right outta my mouth Greg!! I agree, to die on the stream while fishing is much better VS. being unable to fish for the rest of your life. Would be too much agony!! affraid

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Re: Sad Day on Wilson Creek

Post by Buffalo96 on Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:14 am

I think I would rather be alive myself..... Very Happy But not being able to fish would be like dying.

I took heed from my close call and I now carry wading staff with me wherever I go. Three legs is better than two.
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Re: Sad Day on Wilson Creek

Post by charlie on Sun May 30, 2010 10:41 pm

I totally agree with you on this subject, enen though i do fish alot alone ,i am real careful, especially on the james, if you don respect this river it can a nd has taken lives. I always carry a wading staff, and have wadeing rule, if i get over thigh deep, then i am too deep, then i always follw this pattern no matter what, of course being of a short stature thigh om is knee deep on a lot of you guys, still this is a rule i live by and will cont. to do so. beast regards charlie

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Re: Sad Day on Wilson Creek

Post by Tyler on Mon May 31, 2010 2:36 pm

I follow the "if the water goes over your waist, then don't wade any farther" rule too.

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